Blood Hound: Could your dog be a life saver?
Across the UK, thousands of people regularly donate blood, helping to save the lives of patients who are in need of a transfusion. But it’s not just us humans who can give blood – our dogs can too. According to the charity Pet Blood UK, more than 1,000 dogs needed a transfusion last year, often because they are suffering from an illness or have undergone surgery. Currently there are 7,000 registered donors but more are always needed to ensure there are enough supplies.
The first step in becoming a doggy donor is to sign your animal up via the Pet Blood UK website. They will need to meet the criteria, which includes being fit and healthy, fully vaccinated and weighing more than 25kg. It is also important that they have a good temperament, as the process could be distressing for those who are nervous or anxious.
Once you’ve decided to go ahead, it is time to look for a blood collection session in your local area. Pet Blood UK lists these on its website, but it is also worth chatting to your vet about whether they run one at the surgery. It is natural to be a little nervous, especially if your dog is donating for the first time, but the vet will be able to soothe them and guide you through the procedure.
Following a health examination, your dog will be ready to give blood, which is normally around 450ml per session. You might be surprised to discover that this is just less than a pint (568mls), which is what humans donate. Of course, they will need time to recover afterwards, so they should have a rest, food and water before leaving the vet. When you get home, keep a close eye on them to ensure they are not experiencing any kind of pain or discomfort and avoid those brisk walks . . . this is the perfect excuse to snuggle up on the sofa instead!
Giving blood is only the start of the story. Once it has been collected, the blood will be processed and stored until a vet needs to use it. There are many dogs that are only alive today because of a blood transfusion – and your dog’s gift could help save someone else’s best pal.